This was the first week the kids came back to school. On Tuesday we had the opening ceremony and morning classes, and then the kids went home around lunchtime. I ordered in and got a delicious bento box of karaage, or fried chicken:
Also, on January 10th, Timehop kindly reminded me that we’ve had Olive for two years now! She’s definitely grown up! (Well, it reminded me one year ago that it’d reminded me that we’d gotten Olive one year before one year ago…)
We noticed a lovely sign at our local Welcia (the cop is a horse because our prefecture’s mascot, Gunma-chan, is a horse):
Paul drew a lovely sketch of me from our time in Seoul:
I finally used my Amazon gift cards from both my birthday and Christmas to buy three lovely Japanese cookbooks! Once I’ve read through them, I’m thinking of starting a “Washoku Wednesday.” (Washoku is the word for Japanese cooking!)
Yesterday (Saturday) was a beautiful day, and I went for a walk around our neighbourhood with my camera. Here’s our apartment:
Our bikes, kept beneath the stairwell:
I love riding bikes – we’ve saved so much money on gas and repairs, helped the environment, gotten a lot of exercise…though, Tatebayashi is very flat, so I’m not sure how we’d do elsewhere!
The view of the park from our balcony, which is only large enough to hang our laundry out to dry:
Our parking lot! An interesting tidbit: there are two ways to say 4: yon and shi. Shi is also the word for “death,” so a lot of places in Japan skip the number.
Gardens are a common sight around here. They can be tucked away anywhere – from a nice square plot of land right next to the house, or in a small strip beside the road. Since it’s winter, the gardens are pretty dead-looking. Daikon (Japanese radishes) are super common. These things grow so big, they push themselves out of the ground! Also, I’ve recently seen a lot of broccoli.
Japanese apartments are everywhere, and in Tatebayashi they’re pretty darn cheap. Our place only costs about $408 a month, and it’s bigger than a lot of other apartments!
Housing here can vary widely. Here’s what looks to be the cheapest housing you can get – I can’t even begin to imagine how cold it must be to live here:
And then there are older Japanese houses! (There aren’t any really old houses in our neighbourhood. In other parts of town I’ve seen ones that are literally falling apart, and I think Wow, no one must have lived there for years! Why is it still there? And then the door opens and a little old lady hobbles out and I’m just like, Well, okay then!)
Here are the older houses in our neighbourhood:
And some have some pretty nice courtyards:
There’s some beautiful landscaping:
And then, of course, there are the brand-new swanky houses that I’ve seen thrown up in as little as a couple weeks:
And yards are pretty scarce, compared to Kansas City. Either there’s sad, sparse grass, or a ton of gravel:
For my Japanese readers, here’s what my parents’ house and neighbourhood in Kansas City looks like in May:
While Tatebayashi does get greener in the warm seasons, it doesn’t get as green as KC! I miss it.
There are orange mirrors at almost every intersection. They’re very helpful for me, though I’ve noticed a lot of Japanese drivers don’t seem to use them…
The streets around our apartment:
Random stands of bamboo:
Every neighbourhood seems to have one or two clinics tucked away amongst the houses. Here’s a doctor’s office just a few blocks from us. We’ve also got a dentist down the road. While it’s nice to have them all nearby, that means that they also all close on the same day. It’s Thursday in our area – and of course, whenever we need to go to the doctor, it always seems to be on a Thursday.
The healthcare system here is great – under our plan, we usually pay around $5 just for the visit and then an additional $5-$20 for the medicine from the pharmacy next door. In America, on my parents’ insurance, I paid $25 just for a doctor’s visit alone, not counting any medicine I needed.
The only downside of Japan’s healthcare system is that they’re not big on preventative healthcare, so I have to pay around $80 every three months for BC pills.
Solar power is a big thing here! Many new houses have solar panels built into their roofs, and there’s an entire field a block away from us dedicated to solar power.
Japanese stop signs. We had a friend a few years ago who thought Japan simply didn’t have any stop signs – but they do! They’re just triangles instead of octagons!
And there’s a glimpse into our neighbourhood! Hope you enjoyed it!
Until next time! またね！